Infection Control

Everyone has a role to play in tackling infections and at Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust we’re committed to providing patients with safe care in a clean environment whether care is provided at home, in a clinic or in one of our community hospitals. All our staff receive infection prevention and control training (at induction and regular refreshers) and are aware of their individual responsibility to ensure that they follow policy and prevent transmission of infection from patient to patient or to other staff members.

To help us achieve this we have:

  • An Infection Prevention and Control Team (IPCT).
  • A nominated Director of Infection Prevention and Control (DIPC) who regularly reports to the board.
  • Quarterly infection prevention & control meetings.
  • Infection prevention and control policies based on national guidance and recommendations.

The Trust also produces an annual report on achievements and challenges, helping to identify priorities for the organisation.

The measures we’ve put in place to prevent infections includes:

Surveillance of Healthcare Associated Infections (HCAI)
We monitor closely any patient who has been identified to have a HCAI to ensure best practice and local policy is being followed. This action helps prevent other patients getting an infection, identifies appropriate management for each patient to support them to recover.

Clinical Audit
The Trust ensures that regular audits are carried out to monitor the environmental cleanliness and staff compliance with hand hygiene. The audits are presented at the infection prevention and control meeting.

Staff Training
Infection prevention and control forms part of the education of all new staff and all clinical staff are required to attend regular updates.

Cleaning
Keeping the environment clean helps to reduce the risk of infection and creates a more pleasant setting for patients, staff and visitors.

Cleaning staff working in Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust follow the national colour coding system for cleaning equipment to minimise the risk of cross infection. This means that different coloured cloths and mops are used for different areas of the ward/clinic, e.g. kitchens, bathrooms and general areas.

Cleaning standards are monitored regularly, but if you have any concerns please alert a member of staff as soon as possible.

Hand Hygiene
Thorough hand washing with soap and water is the single most important thing you can do to help reduce the spread of infections to help protect you, your family and those around you.

Antibacterial gels are a quick and easy alternative to soap and water and are suitable for use in most situations (always use soap and water if you have sickness or diarrhoea or if you are advised to by staff). Liquid soap and antibacterial gels are widely available for use by staff, patients and visitors in all Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust hospitals and clinics.

The Trust takes hand hygiene seriously and uses a combination of policy, clinical audit and training to ensure that staff provide patients with the best possible care. If you think staff may have forgotten to wash or apply gel to their hands please remind them - they won’t be offended. In the community hospitals you will be given the opportunity to let us know if staff have cleaned their hands by completing the questionnaire when you are due to be discharged.

MRSA (Meticillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus)
All patients admitted to Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust hospitals are screened for MRSA. There are a number of patient leaflets regarding the screening for MRSA and if you are found to be positive our staff will discuss the results with you and the treatment you will be given.

Clostridium difficile diarrhoea
This infection can cause diarrhoea and is often associated with antibiotic use. It is often called ‘C. diff’. Patients being cared for in community hospitals with C. difficile infection are cared for in a single room whilst they have symptoms and are monitored closely by the clinical team caring for them.

Learning from incidents
If a patient is identified with a MRSA bloodstream infection or C. difficile infectionwe will investigate thoroughly to help us identify if we need to make changes to the way we care for patients.

Importance of appropriate use of antimicrobials
The Trust works with staff to ensure appropriate antimicrobials are used according to policy. This monitoring will also support reducing the risk of bacterial becoming resistant to these vital medications. If you are prescribed antibiotics please make sure you finish the course.

What can you do to help us
If you are unwell with diarrhoea and/or vomiting please do not visit patients in the community hospitals. Please delay your visit until you have been symptom free for at least 48 hours. You may be infected with Norovirus which is highly infectious and can affect both patients and staff resulting in wards/services being closed to admissions. If one of our wards are affected by Norovirus we will inform you and recommend that you delay your visit until the situation on the ward has been brought under control. By delaying your visit it will help us to focus on caring for the patients affected and prevent further cases developing.

Useful Information

Norovirus information leaflet

MRSA information leaflet

MRSA leaflet for those affected by MRSA outside hospitals

MRSA screening - patient information

MRSA patient information - What if I am positive?

C. difficile information leaflet

Hand hygiene information leaflet

Understanding NICE guidance information leaflet

Websites

https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/public-health-england  - PHE is an executive agency, sponsored by the Department of Health. They protect and improve the nation's health and wellbeing, and reduce health inequalities.

www.patients-association.com - The Patients Association is a national healthcare charity providing patients with an opportunity to raise concerns and share experiences and opinions of healthcare.

www.nice.org.uk - National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) is an independent organisation responsible for providing national guidance on promoting good health and preventing and treating ill health.